Preserve Your Family Heritage

Why preserve family heritage?

Because it's a way of leaving your family legacy.

Heritage is a kind of fortune or treasure. Wikipedia suggests that it refers to something inherited from one’s ancestors – a legacy of physical artifacts and/or intangible attributes. Knowing your family legacy helps express identity, define family core values and add meaning to everyday life.

"Know from whence you came because if you know from whence you came
There is no limit
to where you can go."
- James Baldwin

Bruce Meckling, President of HeritageKeep – a company based in Oklahoma that helps families document, research and collect stories, history, photographs and artifacts – suggests that

just as families accumulate and protect
financial assets, they
should safeguard
and share their family heritage,

passing it from one generation to the next.

"It is easy to lose track of the family," Meckling said. "What we try to do is get families to understand that their heritage is something of value, especially to young people and future generations."

Following HeritageKeep's steps to preserve family heritage, we can prepare to showcase and share our own precious memories, family traditions, photos and heirlooms:

Collect Artifacts

Start with a time period, individual or generation; gather photos, film, diaries, documents, articles, letters, etc.

Catalog and Scan

Preserve your family heritage by keeping track of what you have; digitizing photos is a good place to start. Photo experts suggest taking digital images of artifacts and antiques.

Conduct Research

Study historic events and genealogy to better understand your family’s perspective and life experiences; this research may include restoration, research and/or appraisal of family heirlooms.

As Tom Cormier, President of, points out, investing time in searching family history and gathering family history stories may seem self-serving but it's really not!

Searching for family roots is one of the most popular pastimes in North America because we have a hunger to learn about those who came before us.

Digitizing Photos

Feeling overwhelmed and don't know where to start?

Take the Heritage Preservation's advice -

If nothing else, focus on your family photos

Gather, sort, scan, save. Get in the habit of writing names, dates and places on the backs of photos.

(Sharpie ultra fine markers are great!)

Store photos in acid-free or archival albums or boxes. Ideally, they should be kept in a cool, dark location.

You could also make your own photo book using digital scrapbook software or many companies offer photo books online.

Organize by person, time period, family tradition or holiday. For precious photos that are stuck on old sticky photo book pages, use dental floss to get them out. Carefully and slowly, slide it beneath pictures and they’ll come off without any rips or tears.

But even well-cared-for photographs deteriorate. Use photo scanning to create digital image files to further perserve your family legacy. (A good general rule of thumb is to scan images at minimum of 300 dpi.) Then create back up files on discs. Once a photo is digitized, it’s easy to create prints for scrapbooking, share the image with relatives, display in a digital photo frame, produce special slide shows, create digital photo books or use them for other special projects. (Just a few other ways to - you guessed it - preserve family heritage!)

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."

- Rudyard Kipling

Hurricanes and floods can wreck havoc on precious keepsakes. Heritage Preservation and the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) offer helpful tips on how to work with damaged photos. "Save your treasures the right way" suggests that the first 48 hours after the damage has occurred are critical. If you’ll be unable to attend to damp items right away, you can freeze them for later attention.

Once you gather your pictures, compile everything together. And, since photos are just part of your family legacy, don't forget to record the family history stories behind them. Document your family traditions and special memories, too.

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